The Sphynx: A Hairless Cat with an Impish Character

The best known of the hairless cats, the Sphynx originated in Canada and was named for its resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian sculpture of the mythical Sphinx

Sphynx Cats

The cat’s hairlessness is a natural mutation, and interest in its development dates from the birth of a hairless male kitten produced by a short-coated farm cat in Ontario in 1966. This kitten, along with other hairless kittens that appeared over the following decade, was used to found the breed.

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Most cats have short hair, whether they are large or small, wild or domestic. This is an evolutionary development that makes sense for a natural predator relying on stealth and the occasional burst of speed. A hunting cat is more efficient in a short coat because it can glide unhampered through dense terrain and move freely for a rapid pounce in a tight corner.

Breed History

Hairless cats were reported long ago in Central America, and in Russia (Peterbald), but modern Canadian Sphynx (also spelled Sphinx) breed history began in Ontario Canada in 1966 with a mutation leading to alopecia universalis.

This autosomal recessive mutation (hr) occurred again in Canada in 1978 where in Toronto, a Siamese breeder found two stray bald cats, and from this stock the modern breed was derived. These were first bred to a white Devon Rex male. Another mutation reportedly arose in Minnesota in 1975 and this cat was used for breeding. The breed made a cameo appearance in the Austin Powers movie as Dr. Evil’s cat.

Though early registration occurred when the initial mutation occurred, the breed was withdrawn from the fancy and reintroduced to the registry in the 1980s. TICA accepted them for championship status in the year 1986. The CCA accepted the breed in 1991 for championship status also. The CFA accepted the breed in the Miscellaneous Class in 1998 and it is now in Championship. Currently, outcrossing to American Shorthair cats is allowed (books in CFA close for this breed in 2010).

This is the only widely recognized breed of hairless cat.

Physical Characteristics


Females 6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg), males 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg)


This cat breed is not truly hairless as many believe. There is a fine down cover described as “peach fuzz” or suede. Hairs must be less than 1/8th” long, and sometimes small short tufts of hair are found on tail tip, scrotum, brow, bridge of nose, back of ears, or outside of paws.

All colors and patterns are accepted.

Heterozygotes have more down than do homozygotes. May or may not have whiskers or brows. If present, whiskers may be short or break off easily.


Lemon-gold eyes, slanted and large. Other colors are uncommon but accepted.

Points of Conformation

This medium sized lithe cat is characterized by the lack of haircoat guard hairs. Skin around the face, neck and shoulders is somewhat loose and wrinkled.

The head is a modified wedge and long, high cheekbones are prominent. A moderate break is present, and nose is moderately long, and whisker pads are distinct.

Ears are very large with no furnishings. The neck is long.

The paws are oval-round and toes are long with thick pads. Tail is thin, long and tapered. Belly is full and potty, not a tubular profile like Oriental type breeds.


These are oily cats and they require frequent sponge baths (weekly or bi-weekly). Some cats may require a seborrhea shampoo. Daily rubbing with a chamois is helpful to prevent oil buildup.

Breed Behaviour and Traits